Why praising your child may do more harm than good

Why praising your child may do more harm than good

Postby Maya » 14 Jan 2013, 15:15

Why praising your child may do more harm than good

From Daily Mail:

Why praising your child may do more harm than good: Psychologist claims 'empty' comments makes them unhappy

By Sophie Borland

PUBLISHED: 00:19 GMT, 14 January 2013 | UPDATED: 10:11 GMT, 14 January 2013

Praising children with phrases such as ‘well done darling’ may damage their confidence, a leading psychologist has warned.

Stephen Grosz claims that comments such as ‘you’re so clever’ or ‘you’re such an artist’ could also hinder their future performance at school.

He says that such ‘empty praise’ causes children to be unhappy as they feel they cannot live up to the false expectations.
More harm than good: Praising your children can damage their confidence according to a leading psychoanalyst

More harm than good: Praising your children can damage their confidence according to a leading psychoanalyst

Instead he advises parents and teachers to bestow compliments less frequently and use phrases that congratulate children for ‘trying really hard’.

Mr Grosz – who has practised as a psychoanalyst, a type of psychologist, for 25 years – said: ‘Empty praise is as bad as thoughtless criticism – it expresses indifference to the child’s feelings and thoughts.

‘Admiring our children may temporarily lift our sense of self-esteem but it isn’t doing much for a child’s sense of self.’

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He also cites research showing that children who were heavily praised were likely to perform worse at school.

Psychologists from Columbia University asked 128 pupils aged ten and 11 to solve a number of maths problems

Afterwards, some were told: ‘You did really well – you’re so clever.’

But the researchers told the other group, ‘You did really well – you must have tried really hard.’

Both groups of children were then given more difficult questions and those who had been told they were clever did not do as well as the others.

In fact, the researchers found they even tried to lie about their results when asked about the experiment. Mr Grosz has written a book about human behaviour, The Examined Life, which includes a chapter entitled How Praise Can Cause Loss Of Confidence.
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He says that when collecting his daughter from a nursery near their home in North London, he heard an assistant tell her: ‘You’ve drawn the most beautiful tree. Well done.’

Later, after she had done another drawing, the same assistant said: ‘Wow, you really are an artist.’

In his book, Mr Grosz writes: ‘My heart sank.

'How could I explain to the nursery assistant that I would prefer it if she didn’t praise my daughter?’

He added: ‘If you go to the local nursery you’ll hear this kind of stuff sometimes mixed in with teaching: ‘‘Oh, your drawing looks so like a Miro, darling’’ [the Spanish painter and sculptor].

‘And so you get this mix of praise and teaching. I find it, to be blunt, aggressive.

'Because it’s saying: I don’t want to engage with you as a person; I want to just praise you.’

Mr Grosz believes that many adults were heavily criticised when they were young and are now anxious to show they are different.

But instead of overpraising children, he said parents should try to build their confidence gently.

‘Just listen to what your child wants to tell you, about what they’re interested in and what they’re passionate about,’ he added.
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Re: Why praising your child may do more harm than good

Postby KellyPosey » 17 Jan 2013, 05:22

Interesting points. We'll have to sort out the point of what is praise and what is support. Cool how she points out that giving praise is like saying I don't want to engage with you, because if I look within myself at who I am within giving praise, it is just that, I don't want to simply be here with whomever, giving them actual relevant assistance/direction, but want to 'take the easy way' of no matter what they are doing, to just say 'it's great'.

And it supports the dependency on other's approval- where we come to look for other's to give us a certain response so we can feel like we're doing well/doing right, and if we don't get it, we don't feel worthy or that we're doing something wrong. And within this, we learn to do the same to others, where we don't just say if we like or don't like something, because we might 'hurt each other's feelings' and then we all become slaves who can't simply express what we like or don't like, because we don't even actually know what we like or don't like, since we've learned to suppress our actual expression to just put a fake face on to each other instead.
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Re: Why praising your child may do more harm than good

Postby Marlen » 17 Jan 2013, 06:20

Cool post and perspective Kelly. In my experience these compliments became meaningless and as such sought to be praised for something 'true' and 'meaningful' which is when we seek to 'experience something real' and use any means to get to know 'who we really are,' which in essence reveals the absolute opposite of having what was supposed to be a 'great self esteem,' and as such any form of compliment becomes another lie to add up to the words that are meant to make us feel 'good' by our achievements but, there is obviously the awareness of such 'triumph' only being according to certain circumstances/ contexts where one is able to achieve any form of success and that's it, there's nothing beyond as an actual communication and support to who we really are beyond 'what we do.'

So, this process has been awesome in order to self forgive all the past self-definitions, to stop being defined by 'who I have been/ what I have done/ what I haven't done' and as such establish a self-worth based on simply being a human living being equal to everyone else - within that the remnants of inner conflict according to fulfilling expectations or simply being 'tired' of always getting the void-feedback of it all being just great are no longer points that are able to define who I am. However this is also a direct result and feedback of being walking this process wherein we take the steps to establish who we are, how we want to direct ourselves beyond the usual self-beliefs and personality/ ego in order walk a process to equalize ourselves as our entire personal history of patterns/ habits to correct and potentials to develop, without having to be defined by the feedback we get from others.

IN terms of parents and teachers, this is a grave mistake and I've written about this many times because it is absolutely consequential for both the one that is getting the recognition and those who are left out from such 'special remarks' that create obvious inequality , as well as dependency to always exist in a certain pattern of 'grandeur' wherein the moment you simply do not 'fulfill' such expectations, you fall down deep, because it was never a stable feedback and self-development, but elevation through praising someone without in fact caring to develop principles within the being, but only supporting achievements that lead to the creation of 'who I am according to what I do/ what I am capable of' and the moment such recognition is gone, then comes the 'loss of identity' and a general lack of will because one goes into the 'what is this all for' type of experience wherein the 'identity crisis' ensues and one turns to god/ spirituality or any other form of personal fixation in order to make of ourselves something 'real' outside of the general 'great' feedback one gets from those people around you. So, in this case it leads to live as a revel/ opposition to such 'greatness' and become a deliberate self-sabotager to 'prove everyone was wrong about such statements.' I am speaking from my realizations and self experience here and how once these personalities are self forgiven one is really facing one's own self-direction and self-will, which is then the physical process of learning how to move without the usual praise/reward system or the opposition as in 'proving everyone wrong' and going into deliberate self-sabotage since both polarities only exist as reactive-modes in the mind instead of living self-direction. And that's what I'm facing at the moment.

This is how any feedback anyone is able to give to point out the actual points that one has to work with is quite a gift and as such my application here is precisely of doing that, give as you would like to receive because it really sucks having no feedback on ourselves and our process other than 'great.' Here and in all the DIP courses we push each other for further specificity and that's why it's a great challenge that I am grateful for since here we don't just conform to pleasing each other, but dare to point out what can be dug further and create an actual support that one would definitely would like to receive in Equality.


Thanks for sharing/ opening up the topic
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Re: Why praising your child may do more harm than good

Postby Rebecca Dalmas » 17 Jan 2013, 07:10

Interesting article.
I was working with this boy and I decided to not praise him, to simply direct. We ended up getting a lot more done, as the focus on what we were doing was more consistent.
Cool thanks!
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Re: Why praising your child may do more harm than good

Postby Maya » 17 Jan 2013, 09:19

Yes, it was definitely interesting article.
there is a Life Review done the other day at how we tend to not pay attention to the little moments such as for instance, when our child show us a ladybug and he is so excited and wants to play with it and we don't really have the 'time' to play with him and so, we say to the child: 'wow, so cool, you are playing so nice with it' and we think that it is enough because we can see that the child is occupying himself and play with the ladybug but we do not pay attention to see. check and assess what is really going on in the child's mind and what processes the child is participating with, that would influence the child's Life from that moment onwards.

Paying Attention to the Small Moments - Life Review
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Re: Why praising your child may do more harm than good

Postby Anna » 17 Jan 2013, 11:26

Maya wrote:Yes, it was definitely interesting article.
there is a Life Review done the other day at how we tend to not pay attention to the little moments such as for instance, when our child show us a ladybug and he is so excited and wants to play with it and we don't really have the 'time' to play with him and so, we say to the child: 'wow, so cool, you are playing so nice with it' and we think that it is enough because we can see that the child is occupying himself and play with the ladybug but we do not pay attention to see. check and assess what is really going on in the child's mind and what processes the child is participating with, that would influence the child's Life from that moment onwards.

Paying Attention to the Small Moments - Life Review


Yes I've noticed this as well Maya, though not so much in terms of praising, but more in how we as adults tend to not listen to children because we're on this 'clock' inside our heads, even in the children's institutions that I work that, there's a constant 'move' to the next thing. And so what I've noticed is a tendency from the adults to make quick assumptions about what the children are speaking about or asking, often missing the point of what the child is speaking about. So I've been practicing slowing myself down and actually listen to what they are saying and I've noticed so many moments where I was very close to misunderstand or make an assumption, but then because I stopped myself, I could say: "wait, what did you ask?" lol. In this there's also an idea in adults - quite spiteful - that children are silly and often mean spirited and so we project how we are in to them. So yes - very cool to slow down and listen.

And then regarding the praise point, I see how it is also cultural because here in Scandinavia we don't say "good job!" for example when children manage a new task. There's not the same type of 'positive reinforcement' as I've seen in the American culture (only through TV though lol). So for example if a child comes and show me a drawing they've done, we would typically say: "wow, that's a pretty drawing." lol and that's exactly the same problem, it's just a different type of praising. And I've found myself doing it automatically to children as well as the 'after math' in myself of growing up in such a system where one as an adult need constant confirmation to be able to move oneself.
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Re: Why praising your child may do more harm than good

Postby KellyPosey » 17 Jan 2013, 11:32

Marlen wrote:This is how any feedback anyone is able to give to point out the actual points that one has to work with is quite a gift and as such my application here is precisely of doing that, give as you would like to receive because it really sucks having no feedback on ourselves and our process other than 'great.' Here and in all the DIP courses we push each other for further specificity and that's why it's a great challenge that I am grateful for since here we don't just conform to pleasing each other, but dare to point out what can be dug further and create an actual support that one would definitely would like to receive in Equality.


Yes, REAL feedback is definitely so important and such a gift, as that opens up opportunities to look at ourselves as evaluate who we are and what we're doing and living as, and we sabotage ourself by giving this fake feedback, all part of the avoidance of self responsibility and self change, because as long as everything is 'great great great' no need to investigate myself and my experience to get to see what is really going on. So it is really representing our relationship to ourself where we are telling ourself 'oh yes everything is great, that's just wonderful, you're doing just fine', so that we don't have to actually investigate ourselves, as then we'd have to face the reality of who we are. Yet, that is exactly what we need to do if we want to stop existing within such limitation as never developing any real self standing because we become dependent on each other as 'Yes Men' to tell us everything is ok, and if we don't get that message, then our experience is negative, and thus we're caught up in the polarity of positive and negative, always seeking the positive and wanting to avoid the negative, controlled and directed by those Forces and never living.

Maya wrote:there is a Life Review done the other day at how we tend to not pay attention to the little moments such as for instance, when our child show us a ladybug and he is so excited and wants to play with it and we don't really have the 'time' to play with him and so, we say to the child: 'wow, so cool, you are playing so nice with it' and we think that it is enough because we can see that the child is occupying himself and play with the ladybug but we do not pay attention to see. check and assess what is really going on in the child's mind and what processes the child is participating with, that would influence the child's Life from that moment onwards.


Oh I haven't heard this one yet, will definitely check it out
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Re: Why praising your child may do more harm than good

Postby sylvia » 18 Jan 2013, 15:30

Cool article indeed. I've seen from my experience with my own kids and kids coming to my house that, whenever I was temped to praise a child in the way discussed, I always felt friction within me. The friction of acting within dishonesty from a point of manipulating the child with my praising or getting rid of the child because I am not able to be present in my own present here and now and don't want the child "nagging' me and get me out of my state of mind. At schools I see the manipulation point as main point, praising the positive and desired outcome to so guide the child through the system in a blissful state of mind, to the point that eventually the child sees that his total picture that he had from himself through the praising did not add up with his physical reality and insecurity will guide him now, and the negative will play out now that was all along in the game when his teachers were praising him into his positive state of mind. I mostly praised or cheered my kids when I could be as excited as my child about anything that happened in the moment, but that is quite hard when we think we do not have the time to do so. Nowadays kids and parents have full agenda's and there isn't much real time left to enjoy the simple things in life.

I also agree with Anna that we in the Northern countries do praise in a different way, but never the less the outcome is the same. I can see that the praising in school made me a person that always wanted positive feedback on the things I did. When there was no feedback I felt lost and with negative perceived feedback I felt really bad as if I had done anything seriously wrong. I still work on that point to not go into 'shock' when feedback isn't the positive blissful input I wish for though pre-programming. So it's deep embedded in our societies, we learn to be good for someone else and receiving praise for that as a kid and later on as an adult we get paid to be good and pass on this destructive behavior to the next generation. And all along we learn how to manipulate each other including ourselves as the other. A huge fuck up that needs to be addressed at the root.
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Re: Why praising your child may do more harm than good

Postby Carrie » 02 Feb 2013, 17:27

From my perspective, Genuine Praise is key. If there are no children in one's life to test this on, it can be tested on adults.

In my own process, it has assisted me greatly when I have heard: "You are doing this.", "Great writing!", "Cool realizations!", "I am confident that you are able to do this.", etc.
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Re: Why praising your child may do more harm than good

Postby Garbrielle » 04 Feb 2013, 00:15

Cool Article and perspectives shared...I agree Carrie that is a cool point, genuine praise as in a word of encouragement that is specific to what the child is doing and not just an open ended over the top praise that has no context to what it is the child is doing.

In my experience, my dad would often not give me out right praise, but constructive critiquing when I was playing hockey for instance, each week we would go over different points and then I would work on it and he would give me genuine praise of what I did that corrected the point to make me realize that I was on the right track and was doing well within the sport. It would continue like this back and forth, a relationship of communication, correction, and praise was built overtime that developed a trust within me towards at that age (young b/w 5-9yrs) an unknown, which was the adult. So it was more of a relationship built of trust, where I knew that what he was saying to me was his own assessment to help me, which made me realize that I could be open with him and trust him to tell me for real how to become better within what I was doing rather then some hollow words of praise that was said sporadically.

I think building the relationship with the child is key to establish trust within the two, and thus treating each other as equals in learning, and critique when necessary and give praise when it was time to give it, helps create the environment for mutual care and trust between a child and adult that will build and grow to be solid.

Also, the interview shared above by Maya, was awesome support and seeing from a child's eye and how a few words that seem cool within the adult is like a whole parallel universe for the child in instances, recommend hearing it it was really cool and woke me up.
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